Norton stared through the stippling of dead insects and dust, reaching forward for the ignition key, recalling how difficult it was to find it behind the steering column.
‘She’s a beaut, isn’t she?’ The seller picked at a fleck of something. ‘Might need a touch of paint but no rust. You going to try her?’
You bet, thought Norton. He hadn’t come five hundred miles and gone back a lifetime to give up. One elephant, two elephant, then a cough. That cough.
‘You sure it’s the one.’ He could barely hear Martine through the open passenger window. So much for no rust.
He sniffed. Behind the sour tang of sweat and old burgers, there it was – aged leather, a wisp of memory. ‘Yep.’
‘When will you be back?’
‘Tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday.’
She sighed. ‘You’d better hope it’s Tuesday.’
‘How is he?’
Martine stood in the door, tension framed by hall light. ‘Not good.’ She stepped forward. ‘I never thought I’d see her again. How was the drive?’
Norton stretched. ‘I feel like a pretzel.’ He sighed. ‘I’ll get him.’
She waited by the kerb as her brother wheeled the chair down the path
‘Here you go, Dad. Remember?’
The lolling head barely moved. As Norton slipped into the driver’s seat, Martine took the cold, dry-cracked hand, barely breathing.
First that cough, then the roar and the thrumming. Her chest exploded as she felt her hand squeezed. She caught her brother’s eye through the open window. ‘He knows.’
Norton looked through the open window, across fifty years. Rheumy eyes met his, shining in the late evening sunshine, the red fin reflected back at him, all shiny and as if new. Long years of loss and ache slipped away. A nod and the head lolled back.
This is the fourth freewrite prompt for the TUFF competition. Enjoy.